Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Remembrance For an Unknown Relative

It is difficult, in riffling through the belongings of a now-long-gone relative, to discover notes referring to other family members for whom I cannot draw any connections. Someone’s century-old presumptions have left me hanging. And, if I am to continue my quest to post this collection of family memorabilia in its entirety, I will simply have to pass along the favor.

In this year-long examination of the important (and not-so-important) records kept by my husband’s grandmother, Agnes Tully Stevens, I’ve mostly been able to identify the significance of pages in her collection. At this last set of papers, I’ve finding myself at a lack to conjure up any information.

For the sake of the process, at the very least—and, at the most, in hopes that someone, somewhere, will someday stumble upon these posts—I’ll continue with this process until its natural conclusion. At which we will draw a collective sigh of relief and proceed to the next task.

It’s what some used to call, “muddling through.”

Today, my hand found its way to a still-well-kept booklet from 1917—at least that is the date given for the copyright. When it was used is another matter, though unfortunately the matter which is to be considered in this post.

The booklet is entitled, The Ceremonies of Ordination to the Priesthood. The inscription below the title continues,
Translated from the Pontificale Romanum edited for the convenience of the faithful, with the Ordinary of the Mass as recited by the newly ordained priests, and explanations of the rubrics, by Austin G. Schmidt, S. J.
The booklet was produced by Loyola University Press at 3441 North Ashland Avenue in Chicago. At least that was the location of the publisher in 1917.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t provide me any help in determining the date in which the book was actually used. And that’s the reason I’m paying any attention to this item right now. Inside the front cover, there is an inscription, added in a careful hand:
A Remembrance of My Ordination To the Sacred Priesthood, John B. Davidson.
My problem—the problem I had last year when I first encountered this set of papers, but since I couldn’t find any answers, had set the whole issue aside—is that I cannot locate any information on John B. Davidson.

Well, that is not entirely correct. I do have an invitation to said ceremony of ordination, with a handwritten note by Agnes’ daughter Pat, asserting that John Bernard Davidson was her cousin.

Cousin? No one in the family can confirm that bit of information now. Of course, not only is Agnes long gone, but Pat has since joined her. I’m left without any help on this one.

The only cheery note since being stumped last year: the 1940 census has since been released. Tra la. It may have included this Father Davidson in one particular household on Garfield Boulevard in Chicago. If so, said John Bernard Davidson was born in Illinois about 1906. At this point in 1940, whatever Chicago parish included these priests, its pastor was then Reverend John T. Bennett.

No matter how much hair I’ve torn out of my head in frustration over this lack of familial traces, the matter must rest until another day. In the meantime, it will have to suffice to post those remaining pictures and papers unexplained.


  1. You piqued my interest. I found him in 1930 as assistant rector and then again in Chicago 1920 living with his mother Margaret Davidson. In the household is HER BROTHER Patrick Tully.

    1. Oh, wonderful, Wendy! I had seen him in the 1930 census also...but finding the link to his uncle is superb! But...which Patrick Tully?!?! There are so many =/

  2. Wendy beat me to it.

    1. This is fun, Iggy! Thanks for the link. Starting with these two comments, I'm searching as fast as my little fingers can type! Nice connection...but as I mentioned to Wendy, I've got to be careful to identify the right Patrick Tully. It seems it all points to father Michael Tully, my missing Tully sibling. I can't help holding my breath on this one!

  3. What I found odd was:

    There is father Michael, mother Margaret - but what were they doing in Detroit?

    1. I saw the Detroit connection myself, the other day. The only thing I can do to explain that is lift an oral tradition from the Stevens/Tully family. According to the family stories, when the family decided to all move from their place in Canada to the United States, those who moved sooner were able to make it to Chicago. The ones who attempted the move later had more trouble crossing the border as immigrants. That's how some of the Tully line ended up in North Dakota for a while. It's likely this older brother (if that's what Michael was to my John) made his detour to Detroit, which would actually be a shorter trip--170 miles--than to Chicago. Obviously, whether continuing on land or by boat, the family eventually joined the rest of the Tully clan in Chicago.


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